One of the more poignant moments so far in my young adult life came one night while reading the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. At the time I had been out of college for more than six months without much hope of landing a job. I was terribly discouraged for much of that period, but recently had convinced myself that I would get a certain fellowship from NPR. It seemed like the perfect fit for me. It was exactly what I wanted to do, so why wouldn’t that be what God had been planning for me all along? Clearly that was why nothing else had worked out, and so it was only a matter of time until I’d get that phone call asking for an interview. Then I could wow them and start packing.
And then I read Letter 15.
For those who haven’t read the Screwtape Letters, the premise is this: Screwtape, who is in the hierarchy of hell, is writing letters of advice to his nephew Wormwood, a tempter, in order to help him devise strategies of winning the soul of his “patient” (one of us) for their boss, Satan.
In Letter 15, Screwtape describes the opportunities that lie in time itself. He says, “The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.”
He goes on to say that the goal is to get your “patient” to think about the Future, saying, “It is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity.”
Upon reading that line, I literally had to put down the book and begin begging for forgiveness. I knew at that moment I would not be getting that fellowship (in fact, the rejection letter came the very next day), and I was strangely okay with that. I had learned an important lesson about one of my biggest weaknesses and one which I still struggle with daily: Planning for my future.
I would venture to say that among the greatest things pulling us away from God in our lives are our future plans. How much time do we spend thinking about our careers, where we want to be in ten years, what our future families will be like and where we want to live when we finally settle down? To put it bluntly, how much time do we spend away from eternity? The list can go on, literally, forever.
“Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” –Matthew 6:34
The truth is God has plans for us, and things will happen in His time. It’s not our job to map out exactly what and when things will happen. It is our job to focus on today and focus on how today touches eternity. As soon as we can let go of our plans, God can reveal His. I can guarantee you that His plans are way better than ours.